The Katmah Experience

living and learning one day at a time.

The Partially Elevated Trot Grid

I found a book!

I got this book a few years ago at RMWF after helping work at the Horse Country Magazine booth. I never really looked at it until today, when I was feeling inspired to do more than just hack around. Flipping through I found a lot of exercises, starting with just poles on the ground, to grid work, to more challenging things such as introducing bank jumps and fixing common problems (running out included). So, I picked an exercise and set off across the yard to set up my jumps and poles and then headed out to get my horse who was loving all the grass outside, but not loving the bugs.

Willard is still the outsider here at home. The other three horses we have keep him atleast 10 feet away from them in the big pasture. They must be jealous of his mad skills. Or just scared of how big he is. Both?

Anyway, back to the point. The exercise I picked for today’s ride was “The Partially Elevated Trot Grid”. A very simple exercise consisting of four trot poles, each one elevated on one side. I started out with just basic trot poles, and actually didn’t get around to the exercise until 40 minutes into the ride as I had to get Will’s focus back on me and not on how high his head to get in the air looking for the other horses. My refocusing strategy today was very blunt. Since all Will wanted to do was prance around like a fool and over collect his neck, I decided that if he wanted to show off his energy I was going to use up some energy. So, we did laps. This gave me a great chance to work on my two point and keeping my upper body back and leg steady as we galloped for a good 15-20 minutes. After a few laps each way, I began asking him to do small collected canter circles on the short ends, and lengthen again on the long sides. Then I did serpentines with flying changes up and down the ring, then did some canter-halt-canter transitions, and then, when Will was finally ready to break to a trot, I did some more lengthen and shortening work around the whole ring. After this extensive refocusing/energy ridding warm up, he was much more compliant to what I wanted to do and much less worried about where his “friends” were.

This is the point where I started working the exercise. The benefits of this exercise are, that by raising the alternate ends of the poles, a definite straight line to ride straight through the centre of the grid is defined. This allows you to concentrate and establish your calmness, balance, and rhythm before moving on to other exercise. It also gives your horse a chance (if they meet the first elevated pole on an off-stride) to figure out how to adjust their step to stop over the poles cleanly.

The first few times I went over the grid, Will banged his way through, slightly surprised at the newly raised poles. But, after a few times through (going away from the gate) he was stepping neatly over each pole. Then I switched directions and started coming home. This changed the scenario a bit. Will was now refocusing on where the other ponies were and not really seeing the grid ahead of him. So, after a few times of him rushing through and not paying attention, I added in tight turns, or stops, or walk transitions, to get him concentrating on mea gain. Horses are sometimes like boys (ages 8-19) who have a gameboy in their hands. You have to do something dramatic to get their attention. Throw a loop into their plans every once in a while.

I used the grid as part of a circle, getting Will to bend around my leg and coming to the centre of the pole off the curve of the circle. This got him listening in no time, and I was able to end with him in a gorgeous frame and calmly chewing the bit and licking his lips. Finally. I got through to him. 

4 responses to “The Partially Elevated Trot Grid”

  1. Cool exercise, and what looks like a really cool book. Handsome has now moved to BlueBear permanently, and I am looking for some non-jumping exercises for the days I ride by myself. Any other books you’d recommend for green jumpers?

  2. You know, honestly I’ve had this book for years and just picked it up now. I’m not usually big on books, but this one is pretty good. Some good ideas for non-jumping exercises involving poles (what I do sometimes anyway) is to set up just basic trot poles, but also set up and measure lines (4 stride, 5, 6, whatever) and practice getting in the striding. Do lengthening and shortening. Add and take out strides. Change it up. It’ll not only help your horse figure out the idea of distances, but also help your eye develop. YOu could also set up a course of poles if you’re feeling really energetic. Or, 4 poles placed around a circle. Practice getting to the centre of each pole as your getting Handsome to bend around your leg and complete nice even circles (done at trot and/or canter). The book that is shown above has all these exercises and more. Working up from pole work, to baby cavelettis, to bigger stuff. It’s definitely worth looking at! Or, you can be like me and make up exercises using imagination! Let me know if you want some more ideas! And congrats on your excellent weekend!!!

  3. Thanks! I know Sheryl and I are going to work on our striding in the coming months. She’s making me memorize my multiplication table – a painful exercise for an arts major! These exercises will be a great help for the striding work.

  4. Well, good luck with that! Math is definitely not my pick either, and I’m a science major (granted, my major has nothing to do with math :p). Once you get a good feel for the pace you need, the striding becomes very easy!

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